Category Archives: Holidays

A late happy holidays

It’s been so long!  I’ve been incredibly busy, but I’ve got some fun posts planned, including: what’s in my bag, what’s in my carry-on, Detroit from a Detroiter, how to prepare your cat for a separation, and more.  Before I get ahead of myself, the good news:

  1.  I’m home!  I’m visiting my family in America.  I’ve been here about two weeks with two more to go.  And then
  2. Ireland!  Although I won’t be liveblogging it, you’ll all get to experience my reunion with Shane and our vacation in Éire.  Everything is planned now and I can’t wait to share it all.
  3. I got a university job!  This was the main reason that I’ve not been blogging: I wanted to keep everything shrouded in secrecy until contracts were signed and plans were made.  More about that later.

Before I get caught up in all that’s new, I’d like to share a couple moments from my Christmas dinner, which, in keeping with tradition, was spent with my friend Jordin.  This year we decided to go out for shabu shabu instead of cooking and staying in, and also this year her student joined us:


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christmas07 christmas08Delicious!

If you’re in the Jeonju area and want to drop in on this place, good luck!  It’s quite good (and, actually, it’s the first place I ate at when I came to Korea) but it’s hard to find because the name changed about two years ago and nothing has been updated.  It’s in new Hyoja-dong (효자동),  and it’s called Da Chae Woo Mi (다채우미), formerly Hae Ddeul Nal (해뜰날).  Click here to access the Jeonju city map, scroll down to “Shabu Shabu – mushroom and beef” and you’ll get a map (link opens in a new window).

I hope everyone is having a warm, safe winter season.  If you have any suggestions for posts that you’d like to see while I’m home, let me know!


Happy one year anniversary, Shane!


Today is one year for me and Shane, and it’s also about the halfway point in our long distance relationship. In fact, last night I booked my flight to Ireland…I’ll be arriving in Dublin at 7am on Saturday, February 8th.  I can’t wait to run into his arms!

And, because I’m feeling mushy and nostalgic, I want to tell the story of how we met.  If you’re not romantic or you don’t care, here’s the short story: on Facebook.  If you want to know the rest, read on…

In November of 2012 I was getting ready to move to Jeonju, South Korea.  I joined the Facebook group for my new city and two weeks before moving, I made a post asking some questions.  That night I got a message from someone with a fake name and no pictures on their profile – I was ready to brush it aside, but the message was innocuous and it actually answered my questions, so I replied.  The next thing I knew, I was chatting with this person day and night…and I had no idea what he even looked like!  This continued until I arrived in Korea, where, on my first morning, I woke up jet lagged with empty cupboards and no idea where the grocery store was.  I was a bit apprehensive, but I messaged Shane.  And, as luck would have it…we were basically neighbors!

Shane offered to show me around, and the first time that I laid eyes on him was when he arrived at my apartment building.  It was definitely a “love at first sight” moment for both of us, although I wasn’t sure how things would go because he was so much more…gentlemanly…than the guys I was used to, haha.  He stayed out of my personal space and he made sure that I felt safe and secure the whole time that we hung out that day, and, even though he told me that he was interested in me, he didn’t make a move at all.

That is, until the next day.

The next day I woke up with a cold.  The day before I’d bought almost everything that I’d set out to buy, except for medicine and pomegranates.  I messaged Shane to ask about the pharmacy and he said that he would walk me over some vitamin C.  He swung by on his way to work, leaving me with a bag that had the promised vitamin C…and a pomegranate.  It was just the kind of cute and thoughtful gesture that I would come to love in the following year.  After that, he and I were attached at the hip.

Our first picture together: November 25, 2012.


How did you meet your SO?  And…what should I do in Ireland?!

Día de los Muertos | Day of the Dead


Today is el Día de los Muertos; well, actually, it’s the second (and last) day of the two-day celebration of life, death, and family.  If you want to know more about the Day of the Dead, there are many excellent resources online.  This entry is going to focus on my altar.

The Day of the Dead is celebrated in several different ways, which can vary according to where your family is from in Mexico and/or where you’ve ended up in the world.  In America, I was lucky to live in an area where it was easy to take part in Mexican and Chican@ community.  There would be altars at the church and the cemetaries would be packed with calaveras (sugar skulls).  Two main elements of the Day of the Dead are decorating the gravesite and building an altar.  Usually I only decorate the gravesite, but in Korea this is not an option, so I’ve built an altar.

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Because I couldn’t find marigolds, I made them.  Oranges and candles are elements of an altar.  So are pictures and colorful paper.  Normally I would buy the paper from a Mexican market, but there are none in Jeonju so I bought some traditional hanji from the local CNA and cut it all myself.  Usually altars (and graves) are decorated with things that the deceased enjoyed, as well as foods that they enjoyed, something to drink, and sugar skulls.  I included the plants (lilacs; my favorite) but didn’t have any sugar skulls.  I will leave some food and some wine out tonight.

dia04Top, from left to right: Uncle Mike, Uncle Gabe, Grampa.  Bottom: my cousin Danae, Uncle Joe, Grampa (again), and Grampa holding my uncle Jesse (both now passed on).

This Day of the Dead was especially bittersweet because my uncle Joe passed on last weekend.  Today (and every other day) I will remember him and the other loved ones that I’ve lost to time, illness, or accident.

If you’re curious to see how I would usually decorate a grave, this is what I did at Danae’s grave last year:



Chuseok holiday

This week was Chuseok – a day for giving thanks, visiting your hometown, and being with your family – and a happy side effect of this was a five day weekend!  Since Shane is leaving next week, we decided not to travel and instead took the opportunity to spend time together.




A family of cats, tied up while their owners were on vacation. Over the next few days we came back repeatedly to feed and water them.




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This building is under construction and it looks like someone has hung up their laundry!


But we didn’t just go around taking pictures all day.  We were also watching Oscar, a four month old cat that Shane found as a small kitten.  We gave him to a friend and this week he spent a couple days with us…and with my cat, Elise.




Elise, scaring Oscar.

ImageImageShane comforting Oscar.

Next week will be difficult.  Shane is leaving on Thursday, so we’re taking a 3am bus to Seoul Wednesday night.  I’ll see him off, get back on the bus, and arrive home just in time for Gumdo.  Wish me luck!